The “miracle” of the XVI Pacific Games opening ceremony
Take a bow Samoa; you have it done again.
Rain or shine the show must go on. And so it was tonight at Apia Park where 24 Pacific nations and international guests from all over the world joined our proud people for the opening ceremony of the 2019 XVI Pacific Games.
What a masterpiece it was. The dancing, singing, laser lights, fireworks, history, moments, it was simply superb. A spectacle for the ages.
Tears flowed freely as many of us watched on from the stadium – and thousands from around the world - with pride how this country of less than 200,000 has once more risen to the occasion.
Against all odds – including less than 15 months of preparations for such a mammoth task - Samoa, judging from the opening ceremony tonight, has done it again, setting the bar extremely high. There will not be many Pacific countries that could pull this off but then that’s Samoa for you. When it comes to pride, hospitality and nationalism, we are a patriotic lot.
Folks, they are not calling these Games the “miracle games” for nothing. Forget the logistics for now. After heavy downpours throughout today left all of us wondering how the opening ceremony was going to be held, the change of weather at Apia Park half an hour before the official programme, was nothing but a miracle. We needed one and we got it. Hallelujah.
It’s a story that will live on, and will be told from generation to generation; how a people desperate for a break against the odds, was looked upon favourably by God who once more showed his love for Samoa.
Indeed, Samoa’s moment of sheer joy was shared by hundreds of athletes from 24 countries who will be vying for gold in the coming days.
As a nation, we are privileged to welcome them to our shores and have them as guests. Keep in mind that the parade of nations in any major competition is always a big moment for every individual athlete, coach and official.
It represents hard work, endless hours of training and sacrifices, a journey of many miles and the answered prayers of individuals, families, villages and churches. Which is why it was wonderful to watch many athletes from around the Pacific region march on with pride, joy and passion in representing their countries.
For Samoa, the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (S.A.S.N.O.C.) couldn’t have picked a better athlete as a flag bearer. The story of Feagaiga Stowers is the story of hope; it is a story of overcoming the odds, how one can turn negative into positives.
It’s possible that Stowers herself would have never thought in her wildest dreams that in Samoa’s proudest moment, she would be at the forefront. If anything, she is another miracle in these Games.
And what a wonderful gesture it was for Samoa’s only Olympic medalist, Ele Opeloge, to light the Olympic torch. It was a fitting honour for someone who could possibly be Samoa’s greatest sportswoman in terms of Olympic medal honours.
We could go on about the specular moments from last night but we will stop here. With the excitement of the opening ceremony - after all the anxiety created by dancers being pulled out last minute and so much anticipation - it’s understandable that as proud Samoans emotions are on overdrive.
What we need to remember is that last night was only the beginning. We’ve got two weeks up ahead to think about.
The good news is that the real fun now begins. The Pacific Games is a sports competition after all and the real show starts today with badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, cricket, football, lawn bowls, rugby league, squash, open water swimming, table tennis and tennis.
At the opening ceremony last night, the athletes taking the field, courts or hitting the water today would not have enjoyed it that much given the nerves ahead of the competition. We wish them well.
From what we’ve been told, the Games in Samoa for the next two weeks, is the biggest Pacific Games ever. More than 5,000 athletes and team officials will be converging on these shores over the coming days.
It’s another miracle. How Samoa in less than 15 months managed to do this. It’s a new benchmark that has been set. So well done Samoa.
But let’s get on with the sporting side of things. What an exciting time we are in for. Get your tickets, find your colours and get down to those sports venues to cheer on your team. Let the games begin.
Have a wonderful week everyone, God bless!